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How to Create and Publish a Novel as a Teenager

Four Parts:Planning the novelWriting the novelGetting publishedTeen Novel Samples

So, you want to publish a novel, and you think you're too young, but you're wrong. Anyone can write books, regardless of age, and teens can definitely create and publish novels, just as well as, if not better than, some adults. So what are you doing sitting around? Get writing!


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    Have the confidence that this is possible. Don't be intimidated. You are competent. Your age does not matter. In fact, if you're writing a teen novel, your age connects you to your readers.

Part 1
Planning the novel

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    Start with an idea, passion and an inspiration. Write what you care about. You need a good idea of what your novel will be like, and you need enough passion and drive to get through it. You don't have to have a full idea to get started; you can start with just a few characters and a setting, or maybe just an opening sentence. There are many less general articles that can help you decide what to write about if you're unsure (see "related wikiHows").
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    Choose your genre. There are novels of romance, fantasy, fiction, sci-fi, action, mystery, non-fiction, horror, etc.
    • If you wish, you can mix genres. A very popular mixed genre is romance-fantasy.
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    Decide your topic. Here is were you create your characters, title, plot, etc. This step is where you make your "Prompt".
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    Write your blurb. That is the thing on the back of the book that tells you what it is about. You can also write things like the prologue or intro. This isn't absolutely necessary but the nice thing about doing it is that it keeps you focused on the nub of your story and the hoped-for outcome.
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    Outline your chapters. List your proposed chapters and decide the main thing that happens in each chapter. Don't put minor things in your chapter outline.
    • Create an outline for Chapter One. List the things that are going to happen in it. You are basically summarizing the chapter, so that when it comes to the actual writing, it's already in skeleton form and you begin fleshing out the detail.
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    Consider the following things when creating your novel:
    • More than likely, you are writing about a teen or preteen stuck in some situation. Some things you want to remember are:
    • Don't use confusing words and long paragraphs. Your reader will get turned off immediately.
    • Terms that preteens and teens use grow old over time. If you use these words, this is also a turnoff. Don't use the same terms over and over. Your readers will get bored.
    • Make sure it is appropriate for the age you are writing for. For example, don't write a teenage novel called "Rainbow the Magic Pony Saves the Day."
    • When you're done, show your work to a friend, parent, or teacher. Have them give you feedback on what you should edit.
    • Throw the advice and go with what feels right and downright original. New ways of seeing the world have to emerge from somewhere plus a dose of courage. On the very young and the very old can afford to be that daring, so risk it.

Part 2
Writing the novel

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    Find your writing style. You'll have to play around a bit to figure out what feels comfortable for the story you're writing. Different styles can include past and present tense, first and third person, prose and verse. It will depend on the voice of your characters and what you are trying to express. Try taking your first chapter and re-writing it in different styles until you hit the one that fits best.
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    Try to write a little every day. However, don't be afraid to put your book aside for a few days, as doing this is better than you hating the chore of writing. Writing a book is going to take you a long time and a lot of hard work. When you get stuck, and hit writer's block, don't freak out. There are about a hundred different ways to destroy your block, and the most practiced is just to wait it out. It'll pass. Every writer has a different way of getting through a novel, so nobody can really tell you the best way to go about it. Some write straight from beginning to end, and others skip around; some write a chapter a day, and others write only when the inspiration hits; there is really no definitive way to arrive at the end of your novel. But in the end, if you give it time, and if you have the passion, you will get there.
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    Go gradually. If it's hard for you to write in sequential order, and you're more interested in one part and then another the next day, then write in pieces. Hopefully, you will know your plot well enough to be able to work in pieces and then go back and stitch those pieces together. Writing in sequential order can get boring, so write what interests you that day. Even if it's another idea, it will all come together eventually. However, there is the danger of getting lazy and not wanting to go back and fill in the parts that are more boring to write. Don't get to that spot, fellow teen writer — if even you aren't interested in a certain part of your book, what makes you think readers will be?
    • Take your time. If you reach a point in the novel where you are stuck, take a break and come back to it later. Frustration will be your only reward if you just sit there struggling and trying to do something you can't. A good book or series takes time to make. J.K Rowling and her books (Harry Potter) took her over 17 years to complete. Take your time and in the long run it will be worth it.
    • Don't stay up late, all night, trying to get the whole thing finished in a month. It's doubtful that's going to happen and it will only make you really tired. This, in turn, will make it harder for you to think and work on what you have. Get enough sleep, eat breakfast, do well in school, etc. You will get it finished; even if it takes a year, you will get it finished if you work on it. Rushing through things isn't going to improve your writing, if anything it's going to make it worse.
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    Edit and revise your first draft. Your first critic is yourself; you will need to go back over everything you have written and revise it to make it better. Especially if this is your first novel, you will have a lot to fix. It's hard to let go, but sometimes even good writing needs to be deleted to move the story in the right direction. There might be huge changes that need to be made before you get to the next step.
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    Get outside editing help. Get a few friends or family members to read it and give you direction, and then you may want a professional literary editor. You can find one online, even in the phone book, and they can be really helpful. However, they can also be expensive, so if you're confident, you can skip the pro editor. Besides, you should know that your publisher will probably want their own editor to look at it before it's published, anyway. Still, you should at least send it to a teacher or another adult with literary experience that you trust. Teens and friends, though helpful, will miss things that teachers and other adults will pick up their first time through, and / or will be gentle to spare your feelings. Do not be afraid of criticism, as sometimes it's downright embarrassing, but most of the time it really helps you to grow as a writer.

Part 3
Getting published

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    Look for an agent. Sending your manuscript straight to the publisher might save agent expenses, but it takes a very long time for those nice and capable and busy publishers and editors to get through what is commonly known as "The Slush Pile". There is a reason why it's called that. Get a literary agent. They're not cheap, but they make a writer's work easy. Many publishing houses (as stated above) only work through literary agents. Send your work to them, they're nice and they really help. But, make sure that you give them exactly what they ask for, if you don't they are disinclined from the start to represent you. And that will only make things harder.
    • When you look for an agent, find one who is interested in the genre of book that you're writing in. Read a good article on writing query letters, get some practice, don't go over a page, and follow the agent's preferences. If they say to only send snail mail, then send snail mail. If they want the first chapter, don't give them the whole book. Try for a first look.
    • It may be hard to find an agent. However, it can be really useful, so persevere. Your agent will bring your book to publishers that he/she thinks are likely to publish it, and many publishers nowadays will only deal with authors through a literary agent. You will have to find one who is available and send a query letter. Don't be afraid if one rejects you, just go on to the next one. Even J.K. Rowling was rejected, twelve times, when she tried to publish Harry Potter.
    • As honest as you want to be with the agents that you're querying, it is best not to tell them your age. You'd be surprised how many authors (even the adult ones) don't tell the agents how old they are. If you write your query and manuscript well enough, the agents will let the writing speak for itself, and they won't even realize that you're thirteen, or fourteen, or one hundred and seventeen. If they like it they'll call, regardless of your age and past credentials.
    • If the agent makes you feel uncomfortable in any way, then you end the conversation as quickly as possible. Don't be taken advantage of. "Yes, thank you so very much. But I've had a few other offers (even if you haven't, still use this. It's polite, it's a white lie, and it's better to put off a bad agent and wait for a good one, bad agents won't help you.) and I'd like to think about them. I thank you very much for your time. Should I contact you if I decide that I would like you to represent me, or should we work out something else?" Or something like that. A bad agent gets you nowhere.
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    Send your finished product straight to the publisher, or your literary agent. Send your work to multiple agents at a time. They're good, but few are miracle workers, and they're very busy. They've got dozens upon dozens of manuscripts to read besides yours. In your query, don't forget to thank the agent(s) for their valuable time: the time that might interest them in your work and get you published. Besides, it's common courtesy.
    • Note that not every publishing company online is safe and true.
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    When your agent finds you a publisher, you will be able to work from there with the publishing company. Don't let them look down on you for your age; get your royalties settled, talk about what you want for cover art, express your opinion. You'll probably want to bring an experienced adult friend to be your advisor with royalties and such. Different companies will work in different ways and expect different things, but they will keep you in the loop. Enjoy the process, although it takes time.
    • When an agent calls - and gives you the call - then be happy. Be polite, and courteous, and thank them very much for reading what you've written. Be humble; do not compare your work to best sellers or other books that they've represented or any other works at all. It's bad form. You can ask questions; even literary agents don't know everything. Be professional and when they ask your age, if they ask your age, be very mature and tell them exactly how old you are. Lying will not help, you cannot sign a contract when you are under eighteen - it's illegal - and lying will only come back and bite you in the butt.
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    Get your book out there. You are a published author. Sign up for public readings, author and book events in the neighborhood. Do a book signing at your library. And be proud of yourself. You worked hard.

Teen Novel Samples

Sample Teen Novel Outline

Sample Teen Novel Excerpt


  • It is really hard to find time to write as a teen, with school, homework, friends, parties, and distractions, but stick to it. There are always a few minutes here, a few minutes there. The end result is worth it.
  • If you're still in the writing process make sure not to share any of your ideas. If the ideas aren't copyrighted yet, someone could steal them and write the book themselves.
  • Read a lot. Read as much as you write and then some. Read all genres, not just what you write - read poetry, fiction, nonfiction, biographies, fantasy, the dictionary. It will help you to create a great story.
  • Read writing reference books. These kinds of books just give tips and ideas to help you out of writer's block, and plus, they're amusing.
  • Make sure you have a clear plot line. Try to not waver from it or go all over the place. It'll only confuse yourself your readers.
  • People say that agents won't take queries from writers who are not previously published or famous - that is an outright fallacy and is not true in the least. Almost every agent, except for those who are more exclusive in their clients based on the client, not the content, accepts queries from everyone who was written a novel of a genre they represent - that's in English.
  • Not all agents charge, although they can take a sum out of the money you make from the book. It's called a commission, and it's how they get paid.
  • Go to the library to try to find a book about publishing.
  • Get together with other writers. There are teen writing camps and clubs. Get the support of other teen authors around you and it will help tremendously.
  • If interested in publishing, check out "CreateSpace", it's a service from Amazon. It features free publishing and you're in control of the price and distribution. Make sure you ask a parent though, because it will require a tax ID.
  • You will get rejection slips. You may get a lot of rejection slips. You may get a hundred rejection slips. Don't let it faze you - everybody gets rejection slips. Even Tolkien got rejection slips.
    • "I love my rejection slips. They show me I try." — Sylvia Plath
  • Don't let other people tell you how your book should be written. You are the author. Even if a professional editor is giving you the suggestions; you can choose whether to take them or not.
  • If you want to have a prologue but not an epilogue or vice versa, that's fine—these are optional.
  • You can also publish stories on a site like Miss Literati or WattPad.
  • Learn to take criticism. No good writer can survive long without it.


  • Do not send your work to a literary agent when you haven't finished and polished the full manuscript. Besides being unprofessional, an agent could be interested in what you have to write (even though it sometimes seems like that's never going to happen, it does, shockingly enough) and when they're interested they will ask for the full manuscript. There is no reassurance that they're going to put yours off long enough for you to finish it. The chances of that happening are slim unless you are a super typer and can write pages and pages and pages a day, but again highly unlikely.
  • Dream big, but don't dream too big. This way, if you don't become a nationally famous author, you can still have your writing, and don't let anyone tell you differently.
  • As a teenage writer, you're not going to be taken as seriously as somebody who has gone to university or college. That said, you've got to be professional and serious while discussing and sending your manuscript off to publishing houses.
  • Don't post your story online on writing sites. It sounds great, but it's not copyright safe until after it's been published.
  • Never send your manuscript to a publisher unless you have Googled their name next to the words vanity or scam. If you don't know what a vanity publisher is do some more research.
  • Don't give up on yourself. It could take months and months to be accepted by a publisher, but there are many of publishers. It's a matter of finding the right one.
  • Make sure that the agent or editor you find is reliable. You may want to do research on other books they've done. There are people out there waiting to scam a first-time teen author who's never done this before.
  • Always edit your work at least twice, as you will most likely miss things during the first draft and first edit. You can never be too careful.
  • Don't get so involved with your writing that you forget everything else. Spend time with people, laugh, have pillow fights, eat so much candy that you feel sick. Just do things, play sports, do your homework, and read other books. A writer needs to experience every stage of life to the fullest. A lot of times doing those things will trigger ideas, and those ideas can often times be crucial and pivotal to your work.

Books by Teenagers

  • The Prophecy of the Stones by Flavia Bujor
  • Bran Hambric by Kaleb Nation
  • The Pet Smart trilogy, by Aaron E. Kates
  • Swordbird and Sword Quest by Nancy Yi Fan
  • Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr and Inheritance by Christopher Paolini (he was 15 when he first started writing Eragon)
  • The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  • In The Forest Of The Night by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes (she was 14)
  • Corydon and the Isle of Monsters by Tobias Druitt (a pseudonym (fake name) for a mother and son writing partnership)
  • 7 in 1 by Joanna Lew
  • Trouble All the Way by Sonya Hartnett
  • The Strangest Adventures Trilogy by Alexandra Adornetto
  • Halo Trilogy by Alexandra Adornetto
  • Tweaked By Katelyn Schneider
  • Starters with Mocktales by Aditya Krishnan
  • A Cry From Egypt by Hope Auer
  • Elves Of Zecoh by Karen Hurley

Sources and Citations

Article Info

Categories: Youth Writing